I had so much fun posting something from the soon-to-be-released DEARLY BELOVED last Sunday, I figured I do another this week.
Blurb first, so you know what you’re reading ( heehee)
Colleen O’Dowd manages a thriving bridal business with her sisters in their hometown of Heaven, New Hampshire. After fleeing Manhattan and her cheating ex-fiancé, Colleen still believes in happily ever afters. But with her demanding business to run, her sisters to look after, and their 93-year-old grandmother to keep out of trouble, she’s starting to feel she may never find her Mr. Right.
Playboy Slade Harrington doesn’t believe in marriage. His father’s six weddings have taught him that life is better if you’re single and unencumbered. But Slade loves his sister and he’ll do anything for her, including footing the bill for her dream wedding. One thing he doesn’t plan on when he signs the checks is losing his heart to his sister’s smart-mouthed, gorgeous wedding planner.
When her ex-fiancé comes back into the picture, Colleen is forced to choose between Mr. Right and Mr. Right Now.
And now, a little sumthin’ sumthin:
“You’re early,” a familiar voice said from behind me.
How was it possible for anyone to look so damn good all the time? Slade was leaning against the doorjamb, arms crossed over his chest. He’d obviously just finished his run, evidenced by the steam gusting off his sweating body. His hair was plastered to his head, the ends spikey with perspiration. A saturated blue T-shirt molded and outlined every curve and bend of muscle in his torso and abdomen.
Every. Single. One.
The sweatpants dropping down his long, long legs rode low on his hips. Like the shirt, they clung to his thick, muscular thighs and did nothing to hide their power and bulging firmness.
Mother of God.
A ball of instant lust bounced through me, and I started to drool—drool! I swallowed, my neck muscles tight and rigid against the movement.
“Game day,” I managed to say. Okay, it was really more of a toad-like croak, but I couldn’t help it. The man turned every fiber of my being, every system in my body, every nerve ending, to the on position.
He smiled and my toes curled up inside my pumps.
“So this is your, what?” He moved toward me, stealthily, predatory, his hands dropping to his sides, flexing and extending his fingers as he walked. His lips lifted a bit. “Game day uniform?”
He stopped right in front of me. The surrounding air went up a good ten degrees around me from the heat sluicing off him, but my body responded as if it had been slapped with an icepack. My nipples pulled to two painful points inside my lace bra, and my skin prickled with goosebumps, precisely the way it had when he’d kissed me right before leaving my house several hours before. My nostrils flared, filled with the fragrance of the autumn woods he’d run through, mixed together with his natural, earthy, manly scent. Desire drenched me.
Slade reached out and pinched the lapel of my suit jacket. “This color is gorgeous on you.” His voice dropped to a sexy, just-out-of-bed timbre that made my knees wobble. “What’s it called?”
“Aub-aubergine. You know? Like eggplant?”
His left eyebrow lifted, and his eyes twinkled with mirth.
“It’s more like an autumn plum, and since Isabella wanted a fall color scheme, I thought this would be a good way to blend in when I’m running around and making sure things go as planned.” I swallowed again. “I don’t like standing out or drawing attention to myself when I’m working. I want people focused on the bride and the groom, so”—I shrugged—“this seemed like the ideal color for blending. So, yeah. Um…aubergine.”
I really needed to get some kind of therapy to correct this nervous babbling Tourette’s.
Slade’s grin turned wicked, his eyes filling with heat. His fingers clenched my lapel and pulled me in closer with a simple tug. My senses were quite completely filled with the very essence of him. “Am I making you nervous?”
“You’re making me insane,” I blurted. Lowering my voice, I added, “Do you know how incredibly hot you are right now, all sweaty and perfect and—” I waved my hand in front of his body, in lieu of finding the right way to describe what he looked like.
Is orgasmalicious a word?
That wicked mouth widened, and I knew exactly how Red Riding Hood felt when the Wolf grinned at her—like she was about to be devoured. Whole.
A breath later, I was.
Slade’s kiss sent an erotic shudder down my spine so powerful, my heart stopped then kicked back in at twice the normal rate. The only part of his body in contact with mine was his mouth, but he had me in a stronghold I couldn’t move out of. Not that I wanted to. Ever.
With innate mastery, his tongue parted my lips and feasted. He cupped my chin to hold me in place and tilted my head back a bit. The angle allowed him full power over the kiss, which I willingly gave up. I couldn’t have fought for control even if I wanted to, which—believe me—I didn’t.
Did I call him a master at the art of the kiss? What’s higher than a master? A prefect? A god? Whatever it was, Slade was so far up the scale, he made his own title.
He kept his body separated from mine, and I instinctively knew it was because I was dressed for the long day ahead of us while he was still in sweaty running clothes and needed a shower. I had an overpowering urge to step into him, wrap my arms around his trim waist, and forget everything. One of us needed to be the stronger person here, and I’m so glad it was Slade because if he’d even shifted a whisper closer to me, I would have put my yearning into action.
All too soon he pulled back. It took me a few moments to open my eyes and focus. When I did, he was grinning down at me again, his head titled to one side and his fists back on his hips.
“Insane, huh?” He shook his head. “Now you know what I feel like every time we’re in the same room and I can’t touch you. Insane describes it perfectly.”
A lump formed in the back of my throat. If I opened my mouth the frog brigade would croak again, so I took a few calming breaths instead.
My name had never sounded so sweet. A million tiny fluttering butterflies beat against my spandex-free tummy muscles. There was something hidden in the way he said my name. Something…promising.
Slade shook his head and stared down at the floor for a second, before pulling his gaze back to mine. A long, deep exhale filled with resignation blew passed his crooked grin. “Not the right time,” he murmured, almost more to himself, than to me. “I’ve gotta go grab a shower, get some breakfast. You’ll be around?”
“I’m taking Isabella and the girls to the beauty salon in a bit. As soon as we get back, it’ll be time for her to get dressed and ready.”
Was that regret in his eyes?
“Charity and Kolby will be here, though, if you need anything. Maureen’s available, too. Just ask.”
Slade took a step closer to me again. “I wish this day was over already.” His voice was soft and low, and a firestorm of need flamed low in my belly. “I wish I was back in your bed, this day behind us. I’d be able to take my time with you, knowing I had all the time in world. All the time to make you”—he leaned a little closer, dropped his voice to a caress—“scream my name over and over.”
What would it have cost me to admit to him I wanted that, too? Too much, at the moment. “Don’t say that.” I took his hand in mine. “Don’t wish your sister’s day away. She deserves an entire day filled with wonderful, lifelong memories. Don’t wish it away for her.”
He covered my hand with his free one, sandwiching mine between them. “I’m not. I want Izzy to have her moment, I do. I just want you, too.” A thin line spread between his brows. “I-it’s just…”
“What?” I squeezed his hand. “Tell me.
His breath was deep and if I had to hazard a guess, troubled. With another shake of his head, he said, “Nothing. Sorry. I’m in a mood. I’ve been thinking about potential parental drama. Today is the first time Janelle and my father have seen one another in a while. I’m not anticipating a happy reunion. For me, either.”
Why didn’t I believe seeing his father was the root of his unease?
Before I could probe further, he stepped back. “Listen. I’m gonna go get cleaned up. I know you’re going to be busy all day, but remember your promise.” That penetrating gaze of his seared right thought me. “I’m collecting at the reception, and you’re not gonna worm out of it.”
Like I would? Please. My parents didn’t raise an idiot, just a nervous twitterer. “I always keep my promises,” I told him.
“I’m betting on it.” He kissed my cheek and left me.
Something was up with him, weighing on his mind. While he might be a little anxious about how his father and ex-stepmom would behave was probably true, I’d wager the secret stash of chocolate covered peppermint candies hidden in my office drawer for emotional emergencies, that wasn’t all that was bothering him.
Tentative publication date is November 14, but I’ll be keeping you updated, peeps!